Thursday, June 26, 2014

Elephant and Piggie

I love taking my kids to the library.  We have a fantastic library in our little town, and it is chock-full of ways to help kids enjoy reading.  Great selection, huge play area with educational toys, busy reading summer reading program with incentives and story times and activities - it's just wonderful.  My kids love library day.

Wandering through the library with them one day, we stumbled upon Elephant and Piggie.  I can't remember the first Elephant and Piggie book we read because as soon as we read one of them, we checked out ALL of them from the library and read them ALL repeatedly.  Mo Willems, author of another set of children's books we love, the Pigeon books, has created two opposite, delightful characters that tell their stories through the use of dialogue balloons.  The two are best friends, but they often hilariously find themselves on opposite sides of an issue.  Gerald, the elephant, (yes his name is GERALD...that right there should tell you it is awesome) is the more cautious, nervous friend while Piggie is carefree and will try anything.  Their adventures include the great moral dilemma of whether or not to share your ice cream, the trepidation that comes with being invited to a party, the celebration of Pig Day, and the horror of discovering you might be allergic to your best friend.  Although silly, the core problem will usually be some basic issue, like breaking a new toy, that kids can identify with.  Some of their stories have moral lessons woven in...and some are just ridiculous, because, you know, not everything has to be a teachable moment.  Sometimes you just want to read a book about an elephant with a bird stuck on their head.  Or, as in my favorite, We Are in a Book!, sometimes you discover that you are actually the subject of a book - so NOW what do you do?!

This books are amazing to read out loud to kids.  I have read hundred, maybe thousands, of books out loud to my children.  Since this blog is called "confessions," here is a confession of mine: it gets old.  It seriously does.  By the 5th Berenstain Bears book or the 8th Dr. Seuss book, you can be totally worn out with reading out loud.  (As a kid, did you ever realize how freaking LONG Dr. Seuss's books are?!  Ai yi yi!)  Reading out loud to your kids is incredibly important - every study done anywhere on the issue says that it is a major contributor to kids' academic success later on.  It also builds memories and bonds between you and your children that you just can't get watching TV together.  It is an incredibly, indescribably important part of childhood and parenting.

It can also...get old.  Come on...admit it.  Sometimes it does.

This is part of the beauty of Gerald and Piggie - you don't get worn out reading them.  The voices are fun to do, the actions are fun to, and by the end of the book, I usually wind up wishing it was just a little longer.  It's the perfect break from Clifford.  Whom I love.  Truly.  Clifford, Curious George, Madeline, Fancy Nancy - love them all.  But sometimes you need something fun and funky and a break from everything else.  That's where Elephant and Piggie save the day. Kids love them, adults love them, and they are so super-fun that it's hard to put them down.  I have found myself flipping through them and laughing long after the kids go to bed.  Yes, more confessions.  That has happened.

If you have kids, are around kids, or are a kid at heart yourself, check out the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems.  But if you get in trouble  for laughing out loud standing in the library, don't say I didn't warn you! 

Some titles to get you started:

We Are in a Book!
Should I Share My Ice Cream?
A Big Guy Took My Ball!
There is a Bird on Your Head!
Elephants Cannot Dance!
I Am Invited to a Party! 

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